Healthy Eating Guides for Runners


Gastrointestinal upset during hard runs is very common. Many runners sometimes prefer to run on an empty stomach, with the pre-training food/drink eaten well in advance of the session. Foods such as low fiber foods or liquid meal supplements before hard training sessions may also help reduce concerns.

TRAINING DIET 

As per the best sports nutritionist in Mumbai, endurance training plans which involve daily or twice-daily sessions need sufficient fuel and recovery strategies to counteract fatigue and enhance training adaptions. Low body fat stores are followed by some distance runners in an attempt to benefit performance, severe energy and nutrient limitation can lead to disordered eating, fatigue, nutritional deficiencies, bone injuries, hormonal imbalances. 

Needs for carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals and fluids differ depending on training phase. An individual's carbs intakes show his daily training load and increase total energy and carbohydrate intake during high-volume days. And it also decreases the intake when volume and intensity are lowered simultaneously, for instance, easy&recovery days. 

Nutrient-dense carbohydrate-rich foods (such as wholegrain bread and cereals, starchy vegetables, fruit, dairy) should be highlighted to meet fuel demands, but there may also be a need to include additional carbohydrate-rich foods/drinks (e.g. sports drinks, energy gels) around training to make progress in performance during heavy training loads. 

Well planned intake of carbohydrate-rich foods/drinks soon after training will help in rapid muscle glycogen repletion, particularly if training twice on the same day. 

Protein-rich foods throughout the day will assist you to build new muscle protein and red blood cells as part of the repair and adaptation process. 

FLUID NEEDS

Distance runners should have the aim to drink enough fluid each day to substitute losses. Fluid prerequisites are influenced by factors that drive fluid losses such as altitude, temperature, exercise intensity, sweat rate, duration. It is not essential or practical to replace all fluid losses during a session/race, but rather aim to replace ~150% of the fluid volume lost over the 4-6 hours approx. following the session.

EATING BEFORE COMPETITION

The main factors causing exhaustion during competition are fuel (carbohydrate) depletion and dehydration. Storage of adequate muscle fuel (glycogen) is required to ensure runners can finish their events at the desired intensity. 
Longer distances such as the half marathon and full marathon, carbs loading over the 24-48 hours before the event can help to increase the glycogen stores and improve fuel availability during the event. Eating low fiber foods, reducing high protein or high-fat foods and spending compact liquid carbohydrate foods over the last 12-24 hours before the event can aid to reduce the risk of stomach upset during the race. 
The pre-event meal is an essential opportunity for a final top-up of glycogen stores and to enhance hydration levels. And for an early morning race, where time is inadequate, light and low fiber carbohydrate-rich snack can be eaten 1-2 hours before the race. Some appropriate pre-event light snack ideas include: 
• tetra pack flavored milk + muesli bar 
• peanut butter on toast 
• crumpets with banana + honey 
• creamed rice 
Later race time might allow for a larger meal 3-4 hours before the beginning of the event which is followed by a small snack or carbohydrate containing fluid closer to the race start. 
Some suitable examples include: 
• porridge with milk and fruit 
• rice or pasta dish 
• sandwich or roll with lean salad filling 
• banana smoothie 


EATING AND DRINKING DURING COMPETITION 


As the race distance increases there is an increased necessity for additional fuel (carbohydrate) during the event. For half marathon or longer events, having 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour is recommended to avoid muscle fatigue and to sustain cognition and pace. These should be easy to digest carbohydrate-rich options with minimal fat, fiber and protein as this slow down the rate of digestion. 

Sports foods such as energy chews, gels, sports bars, sports drinks, etc are suitable choices and easy to carry on the run course. Eating a standard 6-11% carbohydrate sports drink at help stations located throughout an event will help to meet carbohydrate and fluid needs. 

A few runners alter their carbohydrate food/drink choice at distinctive stages of the event and few use cola drinks in the later stages of the race for the additional benefit of caffeine to help performance. 

Common food and fluid choices
Amount required to provide ‘50 g’
carbohydrate
Gatorade (6% carbohydrate)
800 ml
Powerade (8% carbohydrate)
600 ml
Sports gel (40 g sachet)
2 sachets
Cola drinks (11% carbohydrate)
450 ml
Sports bar (60 g bar)
1.25 bars
Cereal bars or muesli bars
2 bars
Bananas
2 mediums
Other fruit (eg. oranges)
3 medium pieces
Dried fruit
80 g
Bread/sandwiches
Medium roll or 2 thick slices of
bread with honey/jam
Fruit bread or cake
100 g

Table 1: Common food and fluid choices used to refuel during sport in order to provide 50g carbohydrate

RECOVERY 

High or very high-intensity training sessions such as races or long runs such as half or full marathonsreduce the glycogen stores so consuming a carbohydrate-rich meal/snack soon after finishing will aid to maximize recovery. 

The recovery meal or snack should include ~20-25g of high-quality protein to help with muscle repair and by including healthy fats it will also help to reduce or lessen inflammation.

Fluids (mainly water) should also be included to rehydrate and replace sweat losses. And nutrient-rich whole food choices should always be prioritized. Studies from the best nutritionist in Mumbai shows that athletes with a low energy budget should aim to time their training sessions around meal times so that they can use their main meals to promote recovery after training. 

Some recovery food suggestions include: 

• tuna, avocado and salad whole wheat sandwich 
• poached eggs on toast (whole wheat bread) with a side of veggies 
• yogurt with muesli with nuts and fresh fruit 
• chicken whole wheat pasta

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